After a disappointing 0-5 start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have opted to bring former MVP, Russell Westbrook, off the bench. It looks like Russell Westbrook is the Lakers’ Sixth Man this year. Here’s an overview of why this plan has helped the Lakers win two straight since their 0-5 start.
Russell Westbrook’s Career
Westbrook has had an impressive career with an MVP award, nine All-Star selections, two All-Star MVP awards, and he was a three-time assist champ and a two-time scoring champ. Understandably, the 6-foot-3 UCLA point guard has started every game of his career since 2009. Back in 2017, Westbrook had 42 triple-doubles on the season, breaking the all-time record for triple-doubles in a season. He averaged 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game that year.
Over his career, Westbrook averages 22.8 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 8.4 assists per game. Last year with the Lakers, though, he only averaged 18.5 points per game, and change was needed. Many suggested a trade, but the Lakers have decided to bring Westbrook off the bench.
Westbrook as a Sixth Man
The Lakers started the season with five straight losses, with the most surprising ones being to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Notably, Westbrook started in three of these games, shooting a combined 11-for-38 over the stretch. He had a negative +/- rating in each of the games, overall performing well below expectations.
After sitting out in game four, Westbrook came off the bench in game five to face the Timberwolves. Though the game ended in a 102-111 loss, Westbrook’s performance was a little better, as his +/- was 0 and he put up 18 points.
However, games six and seven were where Westbrook truly shined off the bench. In game six against the Denver Nuggets, Westbrook put up 18 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, earning a game-high plus-minus of +18. He still played for a solid amount of time, coming off the bench for 32 minutes and shooting 6-for-12. In game seven against the New Orleans Pelicans, Westbrook shot 6-for-10 and had 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists.
With stars like Anthony Davis and LeBron James competing for ball time on the starting lineup, it’s tough for a point guard like Westbrook to play how he usually does. With Russell Westbrook coming off the bench, he can play as the first option like he’s used to and ultimately be more efficient. It looks like the Lakers may keep Westbrook rather than trading him. Hopefully, as he comes off the bench, the Lakers can turn their 0-5 start around.
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